Are we in the midst of a stress epidemic?

Sometimes it pretty much appears as if that is exactly the case – with hospital admissions for stress during 2012 showing a 7 percent year on year increase from the previous year, and the widely known statistic that one in six people in the workplace suffers from stress, anxiety or depression at any one time.

Luckily, regardless of whether the prevalence of stress can actually be characterised as ‘epidemic’, it’s at least something can has the potential for greater management both in terms of workplace well-being policies and also as a personal learning. In fact, if all of us became better versed in stress management techniques it would be interesting to see the effect on stress levels as a whole among the nation’s employees.

Unfortunately, stress in some cases can lead to long term sickness absence and sometimes even cause people to be signed off indefinitely. One of the points raised by the independent sickness absence review that  was published in 2011 was that there are cases where with the right support, people can get back to work, maybe with reduced or altered task sets or even perhaps working in a different job.

Employers seek to reduce sickness absence and also attract and retain the best staff by providing employee health plans available from providers that do business health cover, as well as other staff benefits as part of an employment package.

The government has now announced following the sickness absence review that there will be an independent occupational advisory service to help companies deak with things like assessing cases where people are off for more than 4 weeks, and to assist long term sick people back to work where appropriate e.g. with reduced or altered tasks within their role.

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